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Integrating STEM into Preschool Education; Designing a Professional Development Model in Diverse Settings

  • Kimberly Brenneman
  • Alissa Lange
  • Irena Nayfeld
Article

Abstract

High quality early childhood education and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) learning have gained recognition as key levers in the progress toward high quality education for all students. STEM activities can be an effective platform for providing rich learning experiences that are accessible to dual language learners and students from all backgrounds. To do this well, teachers need professional development on how to integrate STEM into preschool curricula, and how to design experiences that support the dual language learners in the classroom. To address this need, a professional development model was designed to empower preschool educators to provide rich, high-quality STEM learning experiences, with particular emphasis on working in schools serving children from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. This model was created based on best practices in adult learning and teacher professional development, on developmentally appropriate STEM concepts and teaching interactions, and in collaboration with educators to design professional supports that were responsive to their needs. We worked in under-resourced communities in a North East state in the United States to design a model that is culturally appropriate, and that is flexible enough to be implemented within any curricula and with a variety of materials. In this article, we outline the main components and the iterative design process we undertook to ensure that the professional supports are relevant and effective for teachers and children. Finally, the article presents feedback from educators who participated in the design and implementation of the model, as well as discussion of how our process can inform other teacher educators and those interested in promoting early STEM in diverse preschool settings.

Keywords

Professional development Early childhood STEM Teacher education Preschool Dual language learners Coaching 

Notes

Funding

This work was funded by a National Science Foundation Grant, DRL-1019576: Supports for Science and Mathematics Learning in Pre-Kindergarten Dual Language Learners: Designing a Professional Development System.

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© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.National Institute for Early Education ResearchRutgers UniversityNew BrunswickUSA
  2. 2.Department of Early Childhood EducationEast Tennessee State UniversityJohnson CityUSA
  3. 3.Heising-Simons FoundationLos AltosUSA

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